The Priority of the Family
While on a recent pastoral visit to the Italian region of Molise, Pope Francis spoke about the challenges that the family faces in the current socio-economic system. He emphasized both the dignity of work but also the need to focus on true priorities: humans and families.
The Holy Father began by speaking about the struggle of balancing family life and work and the need to spend time together as a family. Pope Francis has spoken about the importance of playing with one’s children before (See Pope Francis Corner: Parents, Play With Your Children). Of this challenge, he said:
“Another challenge was voiced by this good working mother, who also spoke on behalf of her family: her husband, her young child and the baby in her womb. Hers is a plea for work and at the same time for the family. Thank you for this testimony! In fact, it is a case of trying to reconcile work with family life.” Moving away from his scripted remarks, he added: “I’ll tell you one thing: I hear confessions; not so much now as I did in the other dioceses … When a young mom or a dad comes to me, I ask: ‘How many children do you have?’ and I have another question,: ‘Tell me, do you play with your children?’. Most respond: ‘Pardon Father?’ – ‘Yes, yes: do you play? Do you waste time with your kids? ‘. We are losing this knowledge, this wisdom of how to play with our kids. The economic situation compels us to this, to lose this. Please waste time with your children! On Sunday: she referred to Sunday as the family day, to spend time together … “.
Not everyone has the financial flexibility to take Sundays off; however, Pope Francis stressed the importance of allowing this day to be a sign of our priorities: God, family, and community:
“And this also raises the issue of working Sundays, which affects not only believers, but it affects everyone, as an ethical choice. We are losing this free space! The question is what do we want to prioritize? A work-free Sunday – with the exception of necessary services – says that our priority is not to economics, but the human being, gratuity, non-commercial relations, rather family and friends, for believers it means a relationship with God and with the community. Perhaps it is time to ask whether it is a true freedom to work on Sundays. Because the God of surprises and the God who breaks the mold, surprises and breaks the mold so that we may become freer: He is the God of freedom”.
Furthermore, Pope Francis commended the labor that goes into motherhood – not only during birth but throughout the life of the child:
“Finally, I would like to tell you that I was struck by the fact that you have gifted me a painting that is on ‘motherhood’. Motherhood involves labor, but the labor of childbirth is oriented to life, is full of hope. So not only thank you for this gift, but I thank you even more for the testimony which it contains: that of a hopeful labor.”